The last Ducsu and hall union elections were held on March 11 last year, after a 28-year hiatus
The tenure of the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) has expired with the end of the 90-day extension period on Monday, but a date for the next Ducsu polls is yet to be set.
DU Vice-Chancellor and Ducsu President Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman said a dialogue between all stakeholders, including political student wings, needs to be held before holding the next polls.
According to Section 6(c) of Ducsu constitution, elected office bearers of Ducsu shall hold office for 365 days. If the election cannot be held in time, the office bearers shall continue for a further period not exceeding 90 days or till polls are held, whichever is earlier.
Section 8(e) of the Ducsu constitution says the president will fix and notify the date and time of holding the election.
The DU VC said: “Regardless of what it says in the constitution, the participation of everyone is necessary. It is not possible for the vice-chancellor to set a date on his own.
“This is a huge undertaking. Many stakeholders are involved. The polls have to be discussed with them,” he told this correspondent.
The DU VC made similar comments on discussions being needed before the polls on the anniversary of the last Ducsu election on March 11, as well as on the anniversary of the outgoing Ducsu members taking office on March 23. However, an initiative to organize the discussions has not been taken by the authorities as yet.
The last Ducsu and hall union elections were held on March 11 last year, after a 28-year hiatus. The previous Ducsu polls before that were held on June 6, 1990, when General HM Ershad was president and the student body played a huge role in ousting the dictator.
All panels except Bangladesh Chhatra League boycotted last year’s polls, citing vote rigging and irregularities. Chhatra League ended up with 23 seats out of 25.
A group of teachers who independently observed the elections said they noticed a number of irregularities outside the halls.
First, they saw a large presence of Chhatra League activists outside the halls, checking IDs. They discouraged non-resident students from voting, the teachers said in a press statement on March 12 last year.
“Chhatra League members enjoyed free movement in and around the polling centres, but candidates and activists of other panels faced resistance,” the statement said.
There was an “artificial” crowding outside the centres that may have slowed down voting and discouraged voters, it added.
Nurul Haque Nur, outgoing Ducsu vice-president, and Golam Rabbani, outgoing general secretary, said they wish to hold their posts till the next election, in violation of the Ducsu constitution.
However, Md Saddam Hussain, outgoing assistant general secretary, said holding Ducsu office after June 22 would be “immoral and undemocratic.”
Nur, who was elected from the quota reformist platform, said: “We want the continuation of the election after the situation becomes normal. Till then, we want a chance since we have not been able to do anything for the last three months, as the university has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Nur complained that he asked the VC about holding the polls on June 14, but DU VC and Ducsu President Prof Akhtaruzzaman did not respond.
Golam Rabbani, elected from the Chhatra League panel while he was also general secretary of the ruling party’s student wing and later removed on graft allegations, said: “Tk90 lakhs is unused in Ducsu funds right now. We want to spend this money to help students.
“We have raised funds for helpless students of the university during this Covid-19 crisis. We want to extend this support until the situation returns to normal. We should be given a chance until then. We will discuss this with the ex-officio president of Ducsu, who is also the VC,” Rabbani added.
Saddam said: “It is immoral and undemocratic to hold the office in violation of the constitution. University students will not accept such an undemocratic gesture, as they practice democracy.”
DU VC and President of Ducsu Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, said: “I don’t think that other universities could arrange the student union polls the way DU has done already after being inactive for almost three decades. The election will be held following rules as per the constitution.”